Note: This travelog was written in 2013, so many details have long been forgotten since we took the trip.
Friday, May 16, 1997: After flying to Miama from Indianapolis via Atlanta, we boarded Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas and made our way to cabin 6014, an outside standard stateroom.
We were there to attend the International Rett Syndrome Association's 13th Annual Conference, titled "Keeping Afloat." We started out with a welcome from Kathy Hunter, then a keynote speech from Phil Timp, then joined the Bon Voyage party as we left Miami. Before dinner, there was a cocktail party, with crackerbarrel discussions later on in the evening.
|Saturday, May 17, 1997: On Saturday morning, we started with an early breakfast meeting of state regional representatives (at this time, we were the state reps for Indiana). We attended two conference sessions at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, including this session on low tech ideas for communication therapies for our daughters with Rett Syndrome.|
|We had the afternoon free to do a little shopping in Nassau (where we picked up a shiny new set of Bahamanian coins -- where they are actually used, we have no idea), then we were back on board for a formal dinner and another conference session at 8:00 PM.|
|Sunday, May 18, 1997: We spotted Coco Cay from the large port window in our small cabin.|
|We had booked a snorkeling trip and were looking forward to it.|
|Here's Debbie ready to start a day of fun in the sun. (Here's a photo taken nine years later in the same spot and in the same shirt.)|
|Coco Cay is a tender port and we got on a tender as soon as we could. We spent several hours on the island, keeping to ourselves, enjoying the barbecue lunch, and doing some of the best snorkeling. We spotted a number of spotted eagle rays, black with distinctive Helvetica dashes and lower-case o's on their backs, and we were mesmerized. There wasn't enough time to enjoy it all and we had to be back on the boat in time for the afternoon conference sessions that started up at 3:00.|
|At dinner, we wore our nametags and our buttons with Claire's photo on them, as we had all three evenings.|
|We shared a table for eight with three other couples, ...|
|... each of whom were parents of daughters with Rett Syndrome.|
|Debbie had met this dude's first wife at previous conferences, so she wasn't impressed by how much he badmouthed her each night at dinner. We felt a little bad for his pregnant second wife who often didn't know where he was during the cruise.|
|Our waiter took down all of our names and cabin numbers just in case we said anything bad about him on our cruise review forms. He was a gem.|
|The evening sessions started with Dr. Alan Percy, the rock star of the Rett Syndrome world. He knows everything about everything related to Rett Syndrome.|
|Monday, May 19, 1997: The next morning, we awoke at dawn to watch the sail in to Miami.|
|We saw this yard full of Chiquita Banana trucks, ...|
|... and the Miami skyline. We vowed to return someday and we did, taking the same Royal Caribbean cruise with friends in 2005.|
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy